Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake

delicious pumpkin pecan streusel coffeecake | jessicagavin.com #fallrecipe

Dare I say, fall is finally making it’s appearance in Southern California? During our walk back from our favorite local breakfast spot this past weekend with my husband Jason and baby James, I finally noticed some indicators of autumn. Leaves are beginning to turn brown on the trees and just barely starting to cover the ground. Some of my neighbors have started to put up some spooky Halloween decorations, and of course pumpkins in their front yards. As we almost reached home and I finished sipping the last addictive ounces of my chai latte, I got a sudden urge to bake…. 

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Halloween Graveyard Brownie Cupcakes

Halloween Graveyard Brownie Cupcakes | jessicagavin.com #halloween #cupcakes

“Trick-or-treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat…”, do you remember that song? I used to joyously sing that song with my cousins, knowing very well how naughty it was, whoever wrote it must be a gazillionaire! Halloween has got to be one of my favorite fall festivities. It’s one of the rare nights sugar crazy kids get to stay up all night, dress like what they secretly want to be in real life, collect pillowcases full of free candy from strangers and your parents don’t say no. I admittedly had a secret stash of candy hidden in my closet that I was sneaking each day until Santa came to town. Now being a mom, I’m having fun dressing up baby James in adorable costumes until he can chose his own someday. This year I found the most legit baby Batman onesie with a detachable cape and everything, score!… 

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Pumpkin Cream Cookie Sandwiches

Stack of Pumpkin Cream Cookie Sandwiches | jessicagavin.com #cookies #recipe

Dunk…wait for it…nom nom nom! Oh boy do I love Oreo cookies with an ice cold glass of milk so I can dip each bite, so yummy! I don’t know how it started but I remember playing a game of who would get the cream filled center with my friends, anxiously holding one side of the cookie, pulling the sandwich apart like it was some magical wish bone. The crumbly chocolate wafer cookies are filled with just the right amount of vanilla cream and is one of my favorite childhood favorite treats, darn you Nabisco! Now these cookies are my adult guilty pleasure, and no better time to indulge than during the holiday season…. 

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Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Dill Sauce

Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Dill Sauce | jessicagavin.com #recipe

When I was in culinary school at The Art Institute of California-Orange County, I remember seeing a flyer that displayed a perfectly cooked and plated piece of halibut fillet. I remember thinking that I wanted to be able to execute something so beautiful in the kitchen by the time I graduate. I finally got the chance to learn how to properly pan sear fish during my Art Culinaire class, where we studied the cuisines of top chef’s from around the world. I learned that a hot pan, sizzling oil, dry surface on the fish, and a little bit of patience and attention helped create the beautiful pan seared crust on any fish. I wanted to share this pan seared halibut with lemon dill sauce recipe with you because it really is very simple to make!… 

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Chocolate Pumpkin Pecan Scones

Amazing pumpkin pecan scones with maple glaze | jessicagavin.com

Fall is finally here! This marks the beginning of my baking extravaganza. The first fall sightings were the giant bags of miniature Halloween candies exploding from the aisles in the grocery store. I also can’t forget those adorable mini pumpkins and sticky caramel apples. I try not to go to the market hungry because there are too many temptations right now. But boy, was I craving something pumpkin flavored, so I purchased my first can of Libby’s pumpkin puree. I couldn’t wait to think of a sweet treat to bake! So I decided to go all out and pack these buttery little pastries with my fall flavor arsenal, creating chocolate pumpkin pecan scones with maple glaze, boom!… 

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Pork Chops with Spiced Apples

pork chops with spiced apples in skillet | jessicagavin.com #pork

This week marks the official beginning of fall, which means cooler temps, mini pumpkins everywhere and cozy comfort foods. I was really sad to see the dwindling of summer produce at the market yesterday, but they were replaced by marvelous apples! There are so many varieties to choose from like honeycrisp, jazz or the traditional green.

It really depends on how you decide to cook the apples, and since I wanted to use them for a sweet and savory topping for this pork recipe, Fuji apples were my pick. Incredibly sweet yet sturdy when cooked down and sauteed, Fuji apples are great at infusing flavors into it’s flesh and staying nice and tender once cooked. I was excited to transition from using the grill during the summer time to breaking out my trusty cast iron pan to create my hearty and delicious pork chops with spiced apples recipe…. 

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Classic Macaroni and Cheese

cooking macaroni pasta | jessicagavin.com #food

Did I ever tell you that I studied cheese for 2 years during my master’s degree? Yep! I researched the flavors of different cheese and how to make them healthier for you. I got a degree in Dairy Science, and I loved it! So when I think about classic macaroni and cheese recipes, I get super excited because my fondness for this nostalgic comfort food goes beyond just pure enjoyment.

My love for macaroni and cheese began like most American kids born in the 80’s, with the classic blue box of Kraft mac n’ cheese that contained 2 essential ingredients: elbow noodles and packet of cheese powder that never completely dissolved. This was probably my first exposure to food science and I didn’t even know it! I used to add a slices of Kraft American cheese singles, you know, the ones you unwrap because I wanted my macaroni even more cheesy, and we didn’t buy the Velveta kind at the time.

I still to this day enjoy that blue box of mac n’ cheese, and always will. Although I wanted to try my own homemade version so I could switch up the cheese varieties because there are so many delicious types of cheeses and toppings out there. For this recipe though, I just want to create a classic macaroni and cheese recipe, because once you nail the béchamel cream sauce base, the possibilities really are endless!… 

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Mini Nectarine Almond Frangipane Tart

nectarine almond frangipane tart | jessicagavin.com #sweets

The best thing about dessert is when you don’t have to share! I know, that may sound a little greedy, but sometimes you just want your very own pie. With that in mind, I thought that making individually portioned mini nectarine almond frangipane tarts would be a great way to indulge without going over board. It’s nice not having to give others a nibble of the good stuff, since everyone will have their very own tart…. 

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Rustic Peach and Berry Crostata

yummy peach and berry crostata | jessicagavin.com

Do you love crust? I love it! Who knew that combining butter and flour could be so magical, giving you tender pieces of pastry that melts in your mouth with each bite of fruit filling. Being that it’s still summer why not celebrate the last few days by using ripe stone fruit and berries in a delicious dessert?  My local market has super sweet yellow and white peaches and plump blueberries and blackberries available, so I thought that the combination of sweet and tangy fruit would be perfect for a crostata.

I originally found this recipe in Hedy Goldsmith’s incredible dessert cookbook, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors. Chef Goldsmith is the executive pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami Florida, where she creates whimsical and fun nostalgic desserts. I was lucky enough to meet her during her book release a few years back and I was so excited to try her recipes and now was the right time! I had brought this rustic peach and berry crostata to our friends fourth of July celebration, and it was a big hit!… 

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Bora Bora Coconut Custard Pie

delicious coconut custard pie recipe | jessicagavin.com Have you ever traveled to a destination and basically ate your way through the trip? When Jason and I traveled to Bora Bora this coconut custard pie recipe was our slice of heaven. We first had this irresistible dessert on our honeymoon to French Polynesia three years ago and we realized that it was a staple item on pretty much every menu around the island. Each restaurant had their own version, however we always found that the pie was served warm with a cool and creamy scoop of ice cream.

After out third visit to Bora Bora for our babymoon, I thought that I should try to recreate the flavors of French Polynesia by surprising Jason with this coconut custard pie recipe. And guess what, he said I nailed it! We actually ate a slice each night for dessert for almost a week until our craving was gone, haha!… 

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Luscious Raspberry Lemon Bars

amazing raspberry lemon bar recipe | jessicagavin.com

When given the choice of a decadent chocolate dessert versus a light refreshing lemon indulgence, I’m much more of a chocolate lover. I actually used to hate lemon flavored desserts! That’s until I finally made a tray of fresh raspberry lemon bars at home. My first encounter with lemon bars was when I was working at a European bakery in high school, getting the chance to be exposed to lots of different citrus infused treats.

Lemon bars were a staple at Boniere Bakery in Alameda, CA. Baked fresh each week, I used to be in charge of cutting the crisp and gooey bars into perfect squares then dusting them with generous mountains of powdered sugar. I would sneak bites of the browned corners that I cut off, licking off the sticky evidence from my fingers. I think that’s when I started to appreciate the citrus pucker effect of the lemon juice balanced with the sweetness of the sugar in those gooey lemon bars…. 

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Delicious Braided Challah Bread

braided challah bread loaf

Have you ever visited a bakery and seen those long beautiful braided breads and wondered, what are those lovely golden brown loaves? I used to work at a European bakery called Boniere in high school and the pastry chef used to bake these aromatic challah loaves each morning and place them on the bread rack in the front of the store for display. These rich milk, butter and egg based breads were especially popular with customers during the spring time for Easter and the winter for Hanukkah. These yeast-leavened breads are tender with a hint of sweetness and are simple to make!… 

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Italian Easter Bread

delicious italian easter bread | jessicagavin.com

This year for Easter I decided to make Italian Easter Bread, a traditional recipe that Jason’s grandma Rose used to make each year. I honestly had never heard of this Italian treat before, but I was definitely curious! After some researching and talking with Jason’s parents for a description, I came across The Italian Dish blog which had a beautiful recipe. The bread looked so delicious, I knew I had to try it out! This Italian Easter bread recipe has a tender and slightly sweet dough with a hard-boiled egg in the center and festive colorful sprinkles. The perfect recipe to help celebrate Easter this year!… 

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Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms

chicken marsala with mushrooms recipe | jessicagavin.com

You can find chicken Marsala with mushrooms on most Italian restaurant menus and for good reason, it’s simple to make and delicious. I typically order handmade ravioli when I’m having Italian food, however I recently wanted to try something new. I was pleasantly surprised to see how quick and easy it is to make this timeless chicken Marsala dish. Not to mention, the sweet and savory Marsala mushroom sauce is simply addicting!… 

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Chicken Andouille Sausage Gumbo

chicken andouille sausage gumbo pot

New Orleans is a melting pot for extravagant culture, exuberant energy, live music and it’s incredible food! I traveled there a few years back for work and I didn’t know it at the time but when I had my first taste of delicious gumbo, I was hooked! It immediately became my favorite dish from Louisiana. While I was there I had to try the various types of gumbo from each restaurant in The Big Easy!… 

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Lemonade Sugar Cookies

lemonade sugar cookies on a tray

This is a refreshing lemonade sugar cookies recipe that will satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard. Bright, tangy and sweet, these lemonade sugar cookies are a nice way to brighten anyone’s day. These cookies are perfectly balanced with sweet lemonade icing and a buttery tender sugar cookie…. 

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Conversation Heart Cookies

tray of sweetheart cookies and candys

Are you looking for the perfect rolled sugar cookie recipe to make Valentine’s Day treats? With all of the recipes I have tried, America’s Test Kitchen recipe is by far the best! The dough is very easy to roll and handle. The recipe doesn’t even need extra flour because the dough is not very sticky. With love in the air, you can make these iced conversation heart cookies while adding your own personalized messages to friends, family, and those extra special loved ones in your life…. 

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Delicious Surf and Turf Recipe

Delicious Surf and Turf recipe

I wanted to start off 2014 with an amazing meal that would set the tone for recipes to come in 2014. There is no better way to celebrate and indulge than with a homemade steak and lobster tail dinner. This Surf and Turf recipe is the ultimate elegant meal featuring the king and queen of proteins. Beautiful tender and juicy filet mignon and succulent fresh lobster tail. Cheers to a good year!

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Pumpkin Hand Pies with Pecan Streusel

Cooking rack of pumpkin pies

Some people can look at the leafs outside and say fall has arrived, well in Southern California we go to the grocery store to notice the seasons changing. You know what I’m talking about, in late September the grocery chains start to bombard you with pumpkins, scary ghosts and lots of Halloween candy! Pumpkin is the essential ingredient of autumn, so its no surprise that you can find pumpkin everything… pop tarts, cheesecake, oatmeal, flavored beer and lattes luring you into the holiday spirit!… 

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Gluten Free Salted Caramel Apple Waffles

waffles apples bacon featuring cup4cup

When you were growing up, was your pantry stocked with Bisquick – the all in one miracle pancake, waffle, biscuit and cookie mix? Now the next question… is it still stocked with Bisquick?? Well if you answered yes to that second question I have some news for you… There are some new mixes out there for you to try! I created gluten free salted caramel apple waffles using the new Cup4Cup pancake and waffle mix and I want to share the recipe with you…. 

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Apricot Spritz Cookie

apricot spritz cookie

My fondest memory of spritz cookies was when I working at an exquisite European Bakery called Boniere in my home town of Alameda, CA during high school. The pastry chef would fill the cookies with homemade raspberry and apricot jam, and lightly dust each cookie with powdered sugar. These cookies were so tender and contained the perfect amount of sweetness which would melt in your mouth. I just had to recreate these apricot spritz cookies at home!… 

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Banana Oat Crunch Muffins

Banana Oat Crunch Muffins

What’s a girl to do when she’s left with super ripe bananas in her kitchen? Make muffins! Packed with banana flavor and wholesome goodness of oats, flax, tangy vanilla bean yogurt, this banana oat crunch muffins recipe is a delicious treat to start your day!… 

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Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe | jessicagavin.com

When strawberry season begins it’s hard not to buy baskets filled with lush sun ripened berries! Strawberry shortcakes are a classic way to highlight the juicy, sweet and jammy flavors of strawberries. This strawberry shortcake recipe combines fresh berries tossed with Grand Marnier orange liquor, fresh mint, lemon and sugar. Overtime the strawberries release their natural juices and infuse the citrus and mint flavors…. 

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Irish Soda Bread with Cherries

Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread is a quick and easy recipe because you don’t have to wait hours for yeast to leaven the dough. The baking powder and eggs do all of the work to help make the dough to rise providing instant gratification with minimal time. This year for Saint Patrick’s Day, I decided to add a sweet twist to the traditional Irish soda bread recipe…. 

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Chinese Steamed Custard Bun Recipe

Chinese steamed custard bun recipe | jessicagavin.com

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, my family and I would have dim sum at least once a week at our favorite Chinatown tea house. It was so exciting seeing the servers push shiny silver steam carts filled with goodies around to each table. The dim sum carts were filled with different types of a la carte items like several varieties of steamed dumplings, rice noodles with seafood or meat, chicken feet, sticky rice and sweets…. 

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Persimmon Cookie Recipe

Persimmon Cookie Recipe

As the holiday season comes to an end, it doesn’t mean that the flavors of the winter have to! My sweet friend Amy brought me some gorgeous Fuyu persimmons from her grandparents tree. Amy told me that they were the perfect ripeness for baking, so I was excited to try a persimmon cookie recipe to highlight the honey like flavor from these delicious fruits…. 

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Ginger Crumble and Stone Fruit Pie

ginger crumble and stone fruit pie

The warm summer weather in Southern California has extended into fall, which means you can still purchase summer fruit at the market! In the last attempt to enjoy the flavors of summer in a sweet pie, I grabbed my favorite stone fruit; peaches, nectarines and plums.  I topped the pie with my favorite ginger pecan and almond crumble, and at last, the endless summer ginger crumble and stone fruit pie was created…. 

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Rosemary and Thyme Lamb Chops

Rosemary and Thyme Lamb Chops

It’s wonderful what can transpire when you have a conversation about food with a good friend. My friend Mark recently received various cuts of lamb from his family (how lucky!), who bought a whole lamb from the local county fair and had it fabricated. He asked for some suggestions on how to cook lamb so I gave him a few tasty ideas. A week later Mark surprised me with a pound of lamb chops, sweet! I created a recipe that I thought would be a simple and flavorful way to showcase the beautiful lamb chops. I made a recipe for sautéed rosemary and thyme lamb chops with butter braised vegetables and cauliflower puree…. 

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Dulce de Leche Apple Pie

Dulce de Leche Apple Pie

There’s something about delicious pie crust, combined with warm apples, then mixed with a sweet dulce de leche sauce that I’ve wanted to create for a long time. With my husband Jason out of town for the weekend, I had some free time to turn the kitchen up side down and experiment with making a dulce de leche apple pie from scratch!… 

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Brandied Cherry Chocolate Mousse Cake

Brandied Cherry Chocolate Mousse Cake

This year on August 15th marks the 100th birthday of the culinary icon, Julia Child and in her honor I created a celebration brandied cherry chocolate mousse cake. The idea originally came to me when I began to brainstorm with my dear friend and pastry aficionado Tekoah, and when we came up with a few great Julia inspired ideas I just had to make one…. 

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Stone Fruit Crumble with Blueberry and Almonds

Stone Fruit Crumble with Blueberry and Almonds

With summer in full swing, you can easily find ripe stone fruits in most grocery stores and farmers markets. I picked up some extremely ripe and sweet white and yellow varietals of peaches and nectarines from All Green Farms in Orange County, California. I particularly enjoy being a patron of this farmer because they always make great recommendations and are very honest about what is at peak flavor. I requested the kind farmer to hand pick the ripest fruits for the stone fruit crumble with blueberry and almonds…. 

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